Chances are you’ve heard of bingo, whether from watching the telly, chatting with your friends or even playing with your nan! Bingo is, after all, one of the most popular games in the UK – in fact, in 2021, a whopping four million people across the UK regularly played online bingo.
While bingo has a reputation for being a social game, typically hosted in halls buzzing with chatter and the odd shouts of ‘House!’ every now and then, people are often surprised to learn that bingo is classed as a form of gambling by the Gambling Act 2005 and therefore has an age limit.
One of the Gambling Act’s objectives was to protect children from gambling – that means that it is illegal for children to partake in gambling. Since people under 18 years of age are classed as children in the United Kingdom, the legal age to play online bingo in the UK is 18 and over.
At Jackpotjoy, we strive to create a safe and comfortable experience for our players to have fun in. So, while we love a bit of youthful energy, our online bingo rooms are an adult-only zone (sorry, not sorry, kids!). We are fully licensed and regulated in the UK by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain and by the Gambling Commissioner of Gibraltar.
We are fully committed to making sure everyone is safe at Jackpotjoy, which means ensuring no one under 18 years of age can play our games. We use a third-party data reference company to validate the age and identity of all members looking to join. We reserve the right to ask for age verification information and suspect a player’s account until we are absolutely sure that the player is over 18 years old. If anyone is found to be under 18 years old, their bets will be voided, and any winnings forfeited.
Traditionally hosted in community halls, bingo has historically been a great way for people to catch up, have a bit of fun and even raise some funds for a local cause. You may be playing alongside a whole bingo hall full of people, but you’re not really competing with each other since it’s all down to luck. There’s no need to practice your poker face here!
The question of whether bingo is really gambling is something that has been debated for a very long time. For some, it’s just a fun game, whereas, for others, it’s in the same class as a game of poker. The deciding factor is usually whether you are paying any money to play. For example, taking part in a free game of bingo for charity with token prizes available, may not be classed as gambling. However, depositing a wager to play an online game of bingo, would be viewed as gambling, since you could lose that wager.
Ultimately, although online bingo is very different to a Vegas-style casino packed with slot machines and blackjack tables, you are still placing a wager to take part. Since you’re paying money to join in, online bingo is classed as gambling and is therefore covered by the Gambling Act.
In 2005, the UK Gambling Commission (the ‘UKGC’) developed the Gambling Act as a way to regulate betting activities in the UK and ensure players gambled in a safe, enjoyable way.
The main objectives of the Act are as follows:
Usually, when people think of betting activities, they think of casino floors or a day at the races. However, the UKGC also includes scratchcards, football pools, online casino sites and the National Lottery in the Gambling Act. Here’s an interesting fact for you: Bingo is the only form of gambling recognised in the Gambling Act which doesn’t have a specific statutory definition, which goes to show how subjective the matter can be!
There are exceptions to the rule sometimes, which means that it can be legal for under 18s to play bingo in the UK. These exceptions are categorised as ‘non-commercial’ events, where the aim of the game is to raise funds for charitable causes. For example, if the bingo game is fundraising for charity and offers small prizes, then someone who is not over 18 years old could join in.
There are a couple of things to watch out for:
Technically, it is legal for someone to enter a bingo hall if they are under 18 years of age. However, be sure to check if the hall has any particular areas where you won’t be allowed to enter if you aren’t at least 18 – if the area features a slot machine or a casino table, for example, then you won’t be allowed there. Most bingo halls will only let over 18s in just so they don’t have to worry about gatekeeping these areas (hence, ‘technically’).
If you’re over the legal age to play bingo in the UK, come along and join in the fun at Jackpotjoy! We offer a huge variety of exciting online bingo games to choose from, including traditional 90-ball titles or 75-ball titles. With our friendly chatrooms, you can share the fun with fellow bingo players while enjoying your favourite games, so you still get that traditional bingo-hall experience!